Apple and OpenAI sign partnership agreement

Apple and OpenAI sign partnership agreement

Apple Tim Cook

The deal has parallels to Apple’s infamous search deal with Google.

Apple and OpenAI have successfully made a deal to include OpenAI’s generative AI technology in Apple’s software, according to The Information, which cites a source who has spoken to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about the deal.

It was previously reported by Bloomberg that the deal was in the works. The news appeared in a longer article about Altman and his growing influence within the company.

“Now, [Altman] has fulfilled a longtime goal by striking a deal with Apple to use OpenAI’s conversational artificial intelligence in its products, which could be worth billions of dollars to the startup if it goes well,” according to The Information’s source.

The OpenAI/Apple deal has not been without its opponents. The report claims that Apple’s head of machine learning, John Giannandrea, has been opposed to large language model-driven chatbots or anything resembling them appearing in Apple’s software or products. Further, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is said to be concerned about what the Apple deal means for OpenAI’s existing relationship with Microsoft. Microsoft has committed $13 billion to OpenAI in exchange for a cut of its profits and the use of its technology in the former’s enterprise and consumer products.

Some time ago, Giannandrea reportedly told Apple employees “the last thing people needed was another AI chatbot” when one of them asked him if Apple has plans to create something like this. While The Information paints that as a blanket dismissal of AI in Apple’s products, there are other ways Apple could leverage large language models within its products besides creating a new chatbot, and we don’t know if Giannandrea is opposed to those.
For example, Apple has been using OpenAI’s API to create proofs of concept, like a version of Siri that is able to respond to questions outside its usual scope. However, the report says that if Apple does that, it will make it clear when it’s referring to a third party like OpenAI, kind of like how the user is notified when a query results in a Google search.

There have been prior reports that Apple is also in talks with Google for a similar deal. It’s possible Apple could offer users a choice of AI chatbot provider, just like it does with search engines or default browsers.

The Apple deal is one of the many wins the report says help solidify the position of Altman within OpenAI, even after he faced an attempted ouster a while back.

Another is a change to OpenAI’s structure as a corporation. OpenAI has an unusual structure, with a for-profit corporation beholden to a nonprofit organization. The Information claims that Altman and his allies are seeking to convert it into either a traditional for-profit corporation or a benefit corporation known as a B-Corp. B-Corps allow corporations to have additional goals beyond shareholder interest, protecting them from certain kinds of shareholder lawsuits if they act for reasons beyond profits. There is a certification process for B-Corps by an independent organization, though it has been criticized in the past.

A B-Corp could be a middle ground between OpenAI’s current structure and that of a full for-profit.

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